Calumny and Slander

Overall Meaning: Meaning of calumny:
Iftira’ linguistically: It is lying and inventing falsehood. One says: Fulanun yafri al-fariyy if one is innovating dazzling things in what he does. Faritu is said by one when they are amazed or stunned. [722] See: Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (15/154).
Iftira’ technically: It is lying against another in a way it does not please them. It is also said that it is lying that is great, inventing and fabricating what ought not be. [723] al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, al-`Askari (p. 449); al-Kulliyyat, al-Kafawi (1/449).
Buhtan linguistically: It is calumny. Bahata al-rajul, meaning one has imputed another of what he has not committed. Bahatahu means one has met another with accusations he is innocent from and is not even aware of. Bahattu al-rajula abhatuu bahta is said if one lies against another. Bahita and buhita is said if one is stunned. [724] Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (2/12-13).
Buhtan technically: It is arrogantly lying against another. It may also be accusing another of a sin he is free from. [725] al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, al-`Askari (p. 450); Tafsir al-Qurtubi (5/381)ز

Difference between slander (buhtan) and fabrication (zur):
Fabrication is a lie which is prepared and externally beautified so that it may be accepted as truth. Slander is facing another with what he does not love, imputing them.

Dispraise of calumny and slander in the Qur’an and Sunnah:
❖ Allah, exalted, says, “Who does more wrong than those who fabricate lies against Allah or reject the truth after it has reached them? Is Hell not a fitting home for the disbelievers?” (al-`Ankabut: 68)
❖ He, sanctified, has said of those who accuse believing men and women of what they did not do, “Those who undeservedly insult believing men and women will bear the guilt of slander and flagrant sin.” (al-Ahzab: 58)
❖ Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “From the greatest of fabrications (fira) is that a man is attributed to other than his father, makes his eyes see what they did not, or says against the Messenger of Allah ﷺ what he did not say.” [726] Reported by al-Bukhari (3509). Fira is the plural of firyah, which is lying and slander. [727] `Umadat al-Qari, al-`Ayni (16/80), with little adaptation.
❖ Abu Hurayrah, Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Do you know what backbiting is?” The people replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “You mentioning your brother behind his back in a way he would hate.” It was said, “What if my brother has what I mentioned of him?” He ﷺ replied, “If what you claimed of him is in him, then this is backbiting. If it is not, you have slandered him.” [728] Reported by Muslim (2589).

Quotes of the Predecessors and scholars on dispraising calumny and slander:
❖ `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, Allah be pleased with him, said, “Backbiting is to mention of your brother that which we know of him with evil intent, but if it is not in him, then this is slander.” [729] Reported by Ibn Abi al-Dunya in al-Samt (211). Al-Busiri said in Ithaf al-Khiyarat al-Maharah (6/70), “Its chain is formed of the trustworthy, it is halted, and it has that which testifies to it.”
❖ Fudayl said, “At the end of times there will be a slandering people, accusing and blaming others, so beware of them. They are the worst of people. They do not have in their hearts the light of Islam. They are evil, and they do not have deeds worthy of being elevated to Allah.” [730] al-Tawbikh wa al-Tanbih, Abu al-Shaykh al-Asbahani (p. 96, 106).
❖ Sahl ibn `Abdillah said, “Whoever keeps away from backbiting will be safe from fabricating, and whoever is safe from fabricating has saved himself from slandering.” [731] Shu`ab al-Iman, al-Bayhaqi (9/122) number (6364)ز

Types of calumny and slander:
Calumny against Allah: This is the worst type of slander, and it is of two types: (1) That one says, “Allah says this,” and he is lying. Allah did not say what he claims and (2) That one deliberately interprets Allah’s words in other than their intended meaning. What is intended by speech is its meaning. If one says, “Allah means by this such and such,” then he has lied against Allah, testifying in front of Him with what He did not intend, honoured and majestic. 
Calumny against the Messenger ﷺ: It is also of two types: (1) That one says, “The Messenger says this,” and he did not - he is lying and (2) That one deliberately interprets the speech of the Messenger ﷺ in other than its intended meaning. Such a person has lied against Allah’s Messenger ﷺ. [732] See: Sharh Riyad al-Salihin, Ibn `Uthaymin (6/156).
Calumny against the believers: Either by claiming they have said what they haven’t, or by accusing them of what they did not do, or by backbiting him with that which he is not. 

Negative consequences of calumny and slander:
1- Those who fabricate against Allah, sanctified and exalted, are the greatest of criminals and transgressors. 
2- Calumny and slander are the quality of every disbeliever. Allah, exalted, says, “No one fabricates lies except those who disbelieve in Allah’s revelations.” (al-Nahl: 105)
3- They lead one to fall into polytheism and religious innovations.
4- They are a reason to be prevented from guidance. 
5- They are a reason for not being successful. Allah, exalted, says, “Say: ‘Surely the ones who fabricate lies against Allah will not prosper.’” (Yunus: 69) 
6- They lead to debaseness and humiliation. 
7- They are a cause for punishment in this life. 

Reasons for falling into calumny and slander:
1- Associating partners with Allah. 
2- Speaking on Allah’s and the Messenger’s behalf without knowledge. 
3- Differing into groups and factions. 
4- Tribalism and blind following. 
5- Arrogance, envy, malice, and hatefulness. 
6- Abundant speech without benefit. 
7- Finding lying, backbiting, and gossiping decent.

Stories of calumny and slander:
Jabir ibn Samurah narrated, “The people of Kufah complained against Sa`d to `Umar, so the latter dismissed him and appointed `Ammar as their chief. They lodged many complaints against Sa`d and they even alleged that he did not pray properly. `Umar sent to him and said, ‘Abu Ishaq, these people claim that you do not pray properly.’ Abu Ishaq said, ‘By Allah, I used to pray with them a prayer similar to that of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ, and I never reduced anything from it. I used to prolong the first two units of `Isha’ prayer and shorten the last two units.’ `Umar said, "Abu Ishaq, this was what I expected of you." He then sent one or more persons with him to Kufah so as to ask the people about him. So they went there and did not leave any mosque without asking about him. All the people praised him till they came to the mosque of the tribe of Banu `Abs; one of the men called Usamah ibn Qatadah, nicknamed Abu Sa`dah, stood up and said, ‘As you have called us forth to testify, I am bound to tell you that Sa`d never went himself with the army, never distributed the war booty equally, and was never just in legal verdicts.’ Upon hearing this, Sa`d said, ‘I pray to Allah for three things: Allah, If this slave of yours is a liar and got up in ostentation and for fame, then give him old age, poverty, and put him to trials.’ Later on, when that person was asked how he was, he used to reply that he was a trialled old man as the result of Sa`d’s supplication.” `Abd al-Malik, the narrator from Samurah, said that he had seen him afterwards and his eyebrows were overhanging his eyes owing to old age and he used to tease and assault young girls in the pathways. [733] Reported by al-Bukhari (755) and the wording is his, as well as Muslim (453). The second story is mentioned by al-Dhahabi. He said, “Ibn Tahir said, ‘I hear our companions in Harat saying, “When the sultan Alb Arsilan came to Harat in one of his formal visits, the seniors and leaders of the towns gathered and went to Abu Isma`il, greeting him. They said, ‘The sultan came and we are to go and greet him, but wished to come and greet you first.’ They had plotted to frame him, carrying with them a small brass idol which they placed underneath the sheikh’s praying mat in the mihrab and left, leaving him to his devotional worship. They entered upon the sultan, and they beseeched him against al-Ansari Abu Isma`il that he is in fact an anthropomorphist, and that he leaves in his mihrab an idol which he claims is in the image of Allah, and if the sultan were to send for it now, he would find it. This angered the sultan, and he sent a servant with a group to do so. They entered the abode, went to the mihrab, and took the idol. The servant came back with the idol, and the sultan sent those who will bring back al-Ansari. He arrived and saw the idol and the seniors, and the sultan enraged in fury. The sultan asked him, ‘What is this?!’ He replied, ‘It is an idol made of brass, almost like a toy.’ He said, ‘I am not asking you about that.’ He said, ‘What then does the sultan ask of me?’ He said, ‘These people claim you worship this thing, and that you say Allah is in its image.’ al-Ansari said in an echoing, loud voice, ‘Allah forbid! - This is a heinous slander!’ This hit the sultan and it struck him that they had lied against him. He commanded that he be nobly led to his abode. He then said to them, ‘Tell me the truth,’ threatening them. They said, ‘We are trialled by this man that the masses commune around and follow him in our stead. We wished to cut off his evil from us.’ He commanded that they be seized and humiliated.”’” [734] Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ (18/512), Tadhkirah al-Huffaz, al-Dhahabi (3/251-252).

Calumny and slander in proverbs and poetry: [735] Majma` al-Amthal, Abu alFadl al-Maydani (2/412).
❖ They say, “Such imputation!” This is afikah - fa`ilah for ifk, meaning falsehood and lies.
❖ They also say, “What slander!” Bahitah is a slanderous claim.
❖ Some sages said,
“The noble, when they are affectionate,
Hide others’ evil and uncover their beauty.
But the lowly, when their means are firm,
They hide beauty and uncover slander.” [736] Qut al-Qulub, Abu Talib al-Makki (2/326).